The Palestinian leadership and spokespersons have made the false claim repeatedly that they are the descendants of the long dead Philistines and claim they are simple demanding their ancient homelands. There are any number of problems with this narrative starting with, but not ending with, the fact the Philistines were of Greek descent, not Arab. Then there is the little inconvenient fact that the Arab expansion from their ancestral homelands of the Arabian Peninsula waited until well after the Roman Empire had fallen, somewhere around 625 of the Common Era. All these and other little equally inconsequential truths aside there remains the one as to what exactly were the Philistine lands. Truth be known, the Philistines being a people of the sea held solely coastal cities with their five capital cities being Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Gath. This would relate to Ashdod as the northern most city and continuing down the coast including Gaza on to approximately the Egyptian border possibly extending into parts of norther Sinai Peninsula. This would be about half again more land than Gaza which is currently held by Hamas and is sometimes referred to in editorials as Hamastan. Claiming to be the Philistines would rule out the entirety of their claims to lands of the West Bank, but why let realities get in the way.
What brought this on was reading some of the overly forgiving eulogies rightfully praising Simon Peres at his state funeral last week. The picture painted of Peres was one of a man whose life was spent in the unswerving desire for peace and of a gentle soul who was next to faultless and was the measure of understanding. I would have liked to have known of the man described, but that is often how eulogies are, aggrandizing those traits the world found laudable while ignoring those which did not meet the world’s universal measure of greatness. Thus almost none mentioned that Simon Peres was the driving force which drove the building of the experimental reactor at Dimona which could be used for the production of nuclear weapons grade materials, and his deals to acquire French Mirage jets which served as the backbone of the early Israeli Air Force as well. They omitted his support for settlements in what many once believed were lands which at best could have been thought to be negotiable Israeli lands and other Zionist endeavors which assisted in building a strong and viable State of Israel in the 1950s and early 1960s before Peres remade himself into a leftist icon and the man who pursued peace regardless of the consequences and never once saw any of the difficulties resulting from his actions. Simon Peres was a force of wild abandon that wreaked havoc as it broke down every argument and logical caution all in the name of Oslo.
Once he had drafted and brought the Oslo Accords, forcing them upon his own nation and government using every coercion and international pressure in order to force Israel to kneel before the altar of Oslo, as if it were the Golden Calf in the plains before Mount Sinai during the Exodus, and the results were similar in both cases. Simon Peres sold the chimera of land for peace and made such into an idolatrous religion with the Oslo Accords as the idol of worship and constructed a virtual Shrine of Oslo where land for peace was to be worshiped and the term Oslo was a sainted and holy word. This idolatrous cult diverted many an Israeli just as idolatrous cults of the Philistines, Egyptian, Hittites, Edomites, Assyrians, Greeks and Romans stole Israelite souls throughout Israeli history. In many of the times past the Israelite people and later the Jews were punished for their taking of false gods and worship of idols in place of Hashem. Some have postulated that the terrorism could have been interpreted as divine retribution for the worship of the doctrines of Oslo over the Commandments in Torah. There are many wisdoms and truths about the Land of Israel in Torah which we are not to question but to protect and serve to make them holy and dedicated to the worship of Hashem as commanded in Torah. Perhaps it would be of interest for this lay person to tell of the few with which even I am familiar.
First and foremost, the land of Israel belongs to Hashem and Hashem has assigned the Israelites, many call us Jews but that term defines Jews everywhere while Israelites are the Jewish People who have remained through time or returned to these ancient and holy lands thus making us separate in one aspect from other Jews, to tend and care for the lands of Hashem and the lands will care for us for as long as we keep Hashem’s Commandments. Hashem gave us these lands to sustain us as a reward for living by the Commandments of Torah and the lands will be bountiful in measure with our obedience and pure worship of Hashem as Commanded in Torah. There are more than Ten Commandments, there are six-hundred-thirteen Commandments, Mitzvot, in Torah and the Rabbis have added quite a number of regulations, one might call them, over the years as listed in Talmud and other doctrinaires. We are to follow these directives from Torah as if our lives depended upon them because they actually do depend upon them if the land is to support us and keep us. Those who do not follow Hashem and do these Commandments will be “vomited from these lands” as the lands will reject the sinners. After the last exile which lasted almost two-thousand years we hope we have learned this one truism at long last.
There are instructions as to how we are to face those living in the lands which Hashem was to give us and this should probably apply to the modern times as well. We are to give these people three alternatives, each less hospitable than the previous one. The most hospitable is they are welcome to remain in the lands and we will not settle where their cities exist as long as they leave us in peace to follow Hashem and they agree to obey the Noahic Code of seven commandments upon which all civilized nations are to be based according to Torah. These are not dissimilar to the Ten Commandments but are slightly less demanding (see image below). Those agreeing to this may live within the lands and will be afforded equal protection from outside attacks and be treated as equals with equal rights and be free to live providing they reside peaceable and obey the Noahic Code, the Devine Code of seven universal commandments.
The second choice is they may choose to leave the lands entirely. If they choose this they will be afforded ample time to gather their belongings, herds, moveable property, vehicles, wagons and household goods and leave to choose a new homeland and we promise not to harm them, chase after them or bring upon them undue hardship once they have left for their future new homelands. Granted, this was much more easily achieved when the Israelites came to the Promised Lands after the exodus from the exile in Egypt (Mizraim). Of the Canaanite Tribes there were a few who chose to remain and did so in peace, some chose to leave and went forth from the land unhindered, but most chose the last alternative to their dismay and eventual demise. The third choice is to bring war against the Israelites and to try and vanquish us. Those choosing to take this stance and bring war face the ultimate response, annihilation. In case of war we are instructed by Torah to bring complete and total war against those who choose to treat us with violence and we are instructed to kill them to the last individual and to destroy their cattle, goods, and all that is theirs so as to wipe their name from history from that point forward. Total war is what we are described to bring against those who bring violence against us in Hashem’s lands.
This is not how we have treated the violences brought against us and instead have sought to make a peace with those who have chosen war. Peace cannot be made with people whose stated desire is your eradication. Reading even the school books that the Western nations of Europe as well as the European Union, United States, Canada, Australia and the United Nations have paid for in full and some have sent representatives to review the content of the texts and approved them and they state that the Jew in Israel is a mortal enemy to the Palestinian who must murder them wherever they find them. This is taught over and over again in every class imaginable and such is reinforced through plays and exercises where they reenact the murder of IDF troops and Israeli Jews. They have children’s shows on television where they sing songs about the heroic martyrs who murdered Jews and how they too will murder Jews when they are older. The governments of the world know of these textbooks which they pay to have printed. They know of these children’s television shows and the summer camps which are paramilitary training camps which teach the genocidal murder of all Jews worldwide. The world governments and most of the academics know of the naming of parks, schools, summer camps, soccer teams, sports tournaments, streets, squares, mosques and buildings of all types after murderers of Jews, or terrorists, of what they call blessed martyrs which is their term for suicide bombers who successfully murdered Israeli civilians including often numerous Arab Israeli citizens. The world knows of these things and gives it tacit approval all the while condemning Israel for any defense put forth to protect Israeli civilians. The western nations, especially the United States, demand that Israel remove blockaded streets, remove checkpoints and allow Palestinians free access into Israel basically instructing Israel to not enforce the borders with Palestinian Authority semi-autonomous regions knowing full well that doing so will provide clear access for terrorists into Israeli cities where they can and will murder Israeli civilians and then when these attackers are prevented from murdering Israeli civilians by police and they are shot the world protests the extrajudicial killing as if there had been no threat to life despite the terrorists already having stabbed or shot any number of individuals often resulting in deaths or permanent debilitating injuries which scar, disfigure and disable the victims for life.
There is a term in history, more of an explanation really; it is the theory that Jewish blood is cheap, often costless and inconsequential. This was true in much of history both in Europe and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) area under Islamic rule and Greek and Roman before that. One example were the Crusades where when they had numerous troops who were not battle-hardened and had never tasted blood (killed a man) they would assault Jewish towns and ghettos somewhat for sport and for the experience of killing so that when they reached the holy lands they actually had mastered their weapons and no longer gave killing a second thought which made them better soldiers. This training also made the slaughter of entire towns and cities in the holy lands easier on the soldiers’ consciences as they “purified” (rid) them of their non-Christian peoples. Do not believe this was only a Crusader practice as there was also purification in the Islamic world where they too were readying armies for the conquest and spread of Islam and often also for retaking the Holy Lands. As Jerusalem was of obvious value above and beyond that of any normal city as well as was Bethlehem and Nazareth, the Muslims were particularly driven to hold these cities simply to deny the Christians their prized possessions which they found made them lesser fighters, or at least that was the theory.
Once these cities, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem had finally been conquered, the next city of premium value and declared the third most important city for Islam became Constantinople. It replaced Jerusalem which had previously held that title until it was finally secured and defended and proven beyond the ability of the Christians to challenge. They treasured Constantinople so much they even gave it an Islamic name, Istanbul. Once they had finally broken through the walls of Constantinople and taken the city and renamed it Istanbul, they went the additional step of taking the Hagia Sophia, the largest and most decorative cathedral of the world at that time, and transformed it with the addition of four minarets and named as the Aya Sofya First Imperial Mosque of Istanbul (modern picture below where it now serves as a museum covering its entire history). The Hagia Sophia has had a spotted history of grandeur and falling into gross disrepair as well as suffering a number of earthquakes and one pillaging. Today it has had most of its frescos restored and the plaster removed to reveal others once again displaying its grandeur as a museum open to the public. One can only hope this grand structure and example of glorious architecture remains in all of its historic beauty for posterity but that will remain to be seen.
Once the Muslims had taken Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul it eventually fell to the Ottoman Turks, themselves Muslims, and to the allies after World War I after which it was returned to Turkish rule as Turkey remained as a nation in the aftermath of the Great War. They needed a new third holiest city for the conquests to continue. This did cause some differences of opinion as there were three separate cities which served at times holding the honor of greatest target of Islamic armies. The Islamic armies of the west which had invaded Europe by crossing the Gibraltar Straights and entering Spain, or Andalusia as the Muslim named the area, first gave the honor to Madrid and then Barcelona as the third holiest city in Islam, simply the manner in which the next targeted assaults intended to conquer were named. The Islamic forces then took most of Portugal so quickly along with Spain that Lisbon, as far as we could discern, was never so honored. The next target was France and the Muslim forces had experienced no real opposition of consequence so set their sights high and named Paris as their next great conquest. They ran into a problem somewhere around Tours, France in October of 732, where the forces under the leadership of Charles “the Hammer” Martel who defeated the Islamic forces in such a definitive battle that they were turned back out of France and back into Spain.
Meanwhile, as well as much later in history, the next target was in the west of Europe where the Islamic Ottomans targeted Vienna. The interesting item here is the Ottomans made two separate attempts to take the city laying siege to the city in 1529 and again in 1683. The Ottoman Empire led by Suleiman the Magnificent made the first attempt to take Vienna laying siege to the city for almost three months when nature decided to turn upon the Ottoman forces. First there came rain storms which destroyed what tunneling efforts had not already been defeated by the defenders of Vienna. The frontal assaults broke first at distance by the use of arquebus, a rifle-like hand cannon (see image below), and at closer range the use of long pikes broke the assaults. This was followed by an early and particularly heavy snow leading to a rout where many supplies and artillery were abandoned and many men captured. This led to years of conflict between the Austria-Hungarian forces backed by Spanish and Holy Roman forces against the Ottoman Empire forces leading eventually to another attempt at taking Vienna.
Beginning on July 14, 1683 the Ottoman forces under Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha and Kara Mehmed of Diyarbakir initially fought their way to the walls of Vienna and laid siege to the city. The siege held for a couple of months until September 12, 1683, when relief forces arrived to relieve the city. King John III Sobieski of Poland had prepared his forces for a total war of relief for the city of Vienna during the summer of 1683. He requested and received guarantees from all the neighboring countries and backed by the Holy Roman Empire states for a pact of nonaggression while he mustered his entire army to march to relieve Vienna. His forces arrived and backed by Holy Roman Cavalry leaving sufficient forces at key junctions and guarding all bridges to sustain resupply of his forces, King John III Sobieski defeated the Ottoman forces laying siege to Vienna and broke the stalemate thus setting his name into the history books as the man who began the eventual defeat of the Ottoman Empire and broke their advances into Europe once and for all. Thank you for tolerating this trip through history though off topic. I do tend to ramble.
Beyond the Cusp